Wednesday, January 6, 2016
We are not against smart "regionalization." If done correctly, it would mean more transparency, collaboration and growth for the entire region—whether between businesses or governments in Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties—cooperating.
But some sort of fake "regionalization" in the form of a suburban daddy state watching over Jackson, presumably because our city is black-run and majority Democratic, isn't acceptable. Still, such efforts happen perennially, and each time, it adds insult to injury. And, of course, it makes it less likely that a productive regional collaboration can ever happen.
The latest example is Sen. Josh Harkins' proposal to essentially have the state stage a coup and throw Jackson out of managing the airport on our soil and that has "Jackson" right in its name. This absurd bill would establish a board of seven people appointed by our Tea Party-darling governor, Phil Bryant. None of the slots is dedicated for a representative from Jackson, even though Hinds County would get two.
There is no attempt at cooperation in having the Legislature try to take local control away from Jackson. Of course, this is the same Legislature that doesn't want to actually pay for much of anything in the capital city, including police, sewer, potholes, water lines and so on for a city that sees so much wear and tear due to people who work here, help erode our infrastructure, but live and spend their money elsewhere.
Then, of course, we get political outrage exploding all around us when Kenneth Stokes uses very poorly chosen words (which he often does) to try to bring attention to the serious threat of suburban police chases bleeding into Jackson, endangering residents, commuters and visitors alike. They can't wait to jump all over a juicy Stokes sound bite, but they sure don't want to address the problem of poorly trained police officers playing "COPS" on our streets. That is yet another problem that merits regional cooperation and discussion, but these men—from Gov. Bryant to Attorney General Hood—turn it into a kindergarten-level shouting match.
The first thing any attempt at regionalization requires is good faith. The City of Jackson can't roll over and play dead because people who despise our city (e.g. the anti-Jackson comments from neighboring sheriffs) also want to control it and our resources. Considering the flight Jackson suffered over the years by people of bad faith, the onus is on them to show that they have the interests and buy-in of the residents and local businesses of the capital city top of mind when any efforts at regionalization happen.
Then, and only then, should Jackson leaders respond in kind. This ball is in their court.